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Dale Stephens

Dale Stephens

S.J.D. 2014

dstephens at


The Role of Law in Military Decision Making: Lawfare or Law Fair?

My project seeks to reveal the manner in which law is synthesized within the military decision-making structure. The central focus of my study will be on decision-making undertaken within the context of national security, with particular emphasis on the exercise of discretion under the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC). The principal themes I will canvass include the ‘traction’ of law in influencing national security and LOAC decisions with particular reference to the salience of underlying socio-legal norms, the normative character of the Law of Armed Conflict and its pre-dominant interpretative methodology and the modalities of dispensing legal advice in military command decision-making.

Fields of Research and Supervisors

  • A Normative Assessment of the Law of Armed Conflict and Its Interpretative Methodologies with Professor David Kennedy, Brown University and Visiting Professor Harvard Law School, Overall Faculty Supervisor
  • Socio-Legal Analysis of Norm Building and Compliance with Professor Ryan Goodman, Harvard Law School.
  • The Taxonomy of Government Legal Advice in Relation to NationalSecurity/Military Operations with Professor Jack Goldsmith, Harvard Law School.

Additional Research Interests

  • Public International Law
  • Legal and Political Theory
  • Legal Profession
  • Military Ethics


  • Harvard Law School, S.J.D. Candidate 2009 – 2014
  • Harvard Law School, LL.M 2004
  • Melbourne University, LL.M 2003
  • South Australia Institute of Technology, GDLP 1990
  • Adelaide University, LL.B (Hons) 1989
  • Flinders University of South Australia, B.A. 1985

Academic Appointments and Fellowships

  • Director Military Law Centre, 2006 – 2008 Sydney, Australia (Course co-ordinator with the Australian National University).
  • Deputy Director Asia Pacific Centre for Military Law (joint venture with Melbourne University), 2006 – 2008, Sydney, Australia.

Representative Publications

  • Dale Stephens, “Coalition Warfare: Challenges and Opportunities” in The Law of War in the 21st Century: Weaponry and the Use of Force (ed. A. Helm), 82 International Law Studies, 245 (2006).
  • Dale Stephens (with Michael Lewis), “The Law of Armed Conflict – A Contemporary Critique”, 6 Melbourne Journal of International Law, 55 (2006).
  • Dale Stephens (with Angeline Lewis), “The Targeting of Civilian Contractors in Armed Conflict”, 9 Yearbook of International Humanitarian Law 25 (2006).
  • Dale Stephens, The Use of Force in Peacekeeping Operations, Monograph, (2005).

Additional Information

  • Captain, Royal Australian Navy.

Last Updated: March 12, 2015